Five South African victims of asbestos poisoning have been told by the House of Lords that they can sue their former employer in the English Courts. The ruling means that the uk -based multinational Cape, which produces asbestos and exports it to Europe and the us , can be tried in England for breaching health and environmental standards overseas. The five claimants were exposed to blue or brown asbestos either at work or by living close to Cape's mills and mines in South Africa. Cape pulled out of the country in 1979 leaving the South African government to clear up the potentially hazardous sites and over 2,000 claimants seeking compensation for injuries caused by the hazardous material.

Leigh Day and Co, the solicitors acting for the claimants in the uk , said the firm had been aware of the dangers of asbestos and had already settled a number of claims for resulting injuries. The ruling by the House of Lords, which is the uk' s highest court, prevents Cape from appealing against an earlier court decision that allowed claims against the company to proceed in England.